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Social Security Disability Insurance FAQs

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

So you have been paying into Social Security for years. Unfortunately, you need something from the system because you're disabled and cannot return to work. But you don't know much about benefits or how to get them. Here are ten frequently asked questions about Social Security Disability Insurance and how to apply.

10 FAQs

  1. What is SSDI? Social Security Disability Insurance is a form of government insurance associated with work. It is paid with deductions from your paycheck and serves individuals who have paid into the Social Security system.
  2. What does SSDI do? SSDI provides payments to people who have become disabled -- physically or mentally -- and are no longer able to work full-time.
  3. How do I qualify for SDDI? In order to be considered disabled for the purposes of claiming benefits, you must show that you have a condition that prevents you from working full-time and earning a certain income.
  4. How soon can I apply for SSDI? You cannot apply for SSDI unless you can show that the condition you have has lasted or is expected to last 12 months, or is expected to result in death.
  5. Is every illness covered? The Social Security Administration maintains an official list of medical impairments that qualify for SDDI, including both mental and physical conditions, called the "blue book." But even if your specific condition is not listed in the blue book, you can still show an individual need for relief and may qualify.
  6. How are decisions made? Each disability determination is done on an individual basis, which means that no one qualifies automatically but also no one can be denied benefits without a review of their application.
  7. How do I apply? You can apply online, in person, or over the phone.
  8. What do I need? You will need medical records and a list of your visits to health practitioners, past taxes, your prescription medications, and SSDI forms.
  9. What if my claim is denied? Do not be discouraged by an initial claim denial. You may just need more documentation or better records, or maybe you missed a step and have to do that again. There are bases for appealing denials and opportunities to fix erroneous filings.
  10. Do I need a lawyer to apply? You do not need an attorney to apply for SSDI benefits. But if you are denied or you just find administrative processes like these daunting, do consider consulting with counsel. A lawyer can help you understand the process and ensure it goes smoothly the first time by guiding you through the considerable paperwork.

Consult With Counsel

Many attorneys who handle disability claims consult for free or a low fee. Even if you aren't sure that you need a lawyer, it cannot hurt to speak to someone and get a sense of what comes next. Get guidance.

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